Holden Astra RS hatch manual 2017 review
Holden has a battle on its hands to convince people that it's still a viable alternative to the sea of rivals in the local car market. The German-built Astra is a central plank of that strategy.
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There is a sprinkling of Goldilocks about the Hyundai Elantra, and in a different time, when people loved sedans more than hatches, it might have been perfectly placed to be a big seller.
With its turbocharged, 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, it's not going to rip your arms off, but nor is it lacking in fizz and fun. And at $28,990, for the SR Turbo manual we're driving here, it's not too expensive, either.
Fortunately, it somehow manages not to look like you've bought something cheap.
Is it, then, the Just Right of cars? We spent a couple of weeks with our Snow White version attempting to find out.
|Hyundai Elantra 2017: SR Turbo|
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
This sporty little Elantra comes so close to being truly attractive that it hurts. A bit like being Mimi McPherson, or Doug Pitt (yes, Brad's brother, who still can't get over the fact he doesn't get to have Christmas with Angelina any more).
From side on it is almost sleek, spoiled only ever so slightly by what looks like a melted C-pillar. From the rear, and three-quarter it truly is sharp and almost Audi-like, and from front-on it looks like an i30 with a wider jaw, which is neither unpleasant, nor exciting.
Overall, it's not a bad looking car, and the more time you spend with it the more it grows on you.
The interior of our test vehicle was filled with excitement, or at least bright red "leather-appointed" seats, which caused my children to exclaim loudly with words like "cool".
What does let the Hyundai down is the quality and feel of the plastics, the door handles and basically everything you touch. It doesn't feel awful, but it just doesn't have that quality you get from other brands and, while the company's work in this area has gotten better in recent years, it all still feels just a bit thin.
The inherent advantage of a sedan, even a smallish one, over a hatch is the sense of interior space, and the roof line, shoulder room and rear leg room really do stand out in the Elantra.
The 458 litres of boot space is the other obvious big win here.
Rear passengers get ISOFIX child seat mounts in the outward positions, a bottle holder in each door, while the front doors feature the same, plus two more cupholders between the front seats and in the fold-down rear armrest. Oddment/phone storage is plentiful and practical just under the dash, where you'll also find the USB port positioned.
Generally speaking, the Elantra offers a very practical, pleasant cabin, but in the SR Turbo it also manages to feel a bit special.
At this price point you'd be expecting to have a lot of options to tick, easily taking you up beyond $30,000, but the amount of fruit you get included is actually very impressive. It includes: all the safety equipment you could want, active and passive, a reversing camera, front and rear parking assist, dusk-sensing headlamps, Proximity Sensing Smart Key with push-button start, an old-school handbrake, which I love, a 7-inch colour touch screen with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, heated and power adjustable front seats, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, Smart Bootlid with hands-free opening, sports body kit and rear muffler with twin exhaust tips, leather-ish sports bucket seats and 17-inch alloys.
It is, in short, excellent value for money.
While the base Elantra makes do with a bigger, less powerful 2.0-litre engine providing 112kW and 192Nm, the more tech-savvy turbo 1.6 in the SR manages 150kW and a far more impressive 265Nm, which is yours for the enjoying from 1500 to 4500rpm.
The six-speed manual is a great companion for getting the most out of this engine, with quick and easy shifts that make you feel involved in the experience.
You can expect a 0 to 100km/h time just slightly north of a brisk seven seconds, or a couple of tenths under if you go for the DCT auto. It's no sports car, but it's no slug either.
There is a small penalty to pay for the enjoyment of driving the manual, because its fuel-economy figure of 6.1 litres per 100km is just slightly higher than the self-shifter, which offers 5.8 litres per 100km. Both figures are highly respectable.
"Surprising" is the word that comes to mind here. I'd driven an Elantra SR earlier in the year in Perth, a place which, particularly in the heat of its burning summers, can make anything feel like a chore. I'd been not entirely whelmed by the experience, neither overwhelmed by its performance or too awfully underwhelmed by its dual-clutch auto.
Switching into the manual for a couple of weeks in Sydney I was far more impressed by the way it copes with the cut and thrust of traffic in a big city.
The Elantra feels torquey and urgent, and if you apply yourself to the driving experience and rev it hard in each gear there's genuine fun to be had.
My wife, who tends to review cars in sound bites, also declared it hugely enjoyable, and sounded even more surprised than me.
It's an easy car to drive sedately in, but if you're in the mood there's some character lurking beneath the bonnet as well.
She did find the ride a little firm, also, but I quite liked it, because it was never too harsh and simply added something to the sportiness of the SR.
With its wild seats and other look-at-me touches, the Elantra struck me as mutton dressed up as beefcake at first, but it actually does deliver on at least some of that visible promise.
The steering is also precise and quick without being overly light. It's an easy car to drive sedately in, but if you're in the mood there's some character lurking beneath the bonnet as well.
And at less than $30,000, the whole package is far more than you'd expect to get for the money.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The gear is all here with traction control, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist System, Hill-start Assist Control, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, a reversing camera and parking assist front and rear. Driver and front passenger get four airbags between them and side curtain airbags are also standard. It also gets a five-star ANCAP rating, but AEB is absent from the spec list.
Hyundai offers an impressive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which brings a lot of peace of mind, and service intervals are every 12 months or 10,000km. The first three services are capped at $259 each, while the fourth climbs to $299, before the $399 fifth service for a total of $1475 over five years or five services.
The Hyundai Elantra is an excellent value proposition and, in the case of this Turbo SR version, surprisingly fun to drive as well. Should be on your shopping list if you're after a mid-size sedan, and the five-year warranty is also a tempting offer.
|Active 2.0 MPi||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$11,000 – 16,060||2017 Hyundai Elantra 2017 Active 2.0 MPi Pricing and Specs|
|Elite 2.0 MPi||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$14,400 – 20,240||2017 Hyundai Elantra 2017 Elite 2.0 MPi Pricing and Specs|
|Elite 2.0 MPI (sunroof)||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$15,000 – 21,120||2017 Hyundai Elantra 2017 Elite 2.0 MPI (sunroof) Pricing and Specs|
|SR Turbo||1.6L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$16,300 – 22,660||2017 Hyundai Elantra 2017 SR Turbo Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||9|
|Engine & trans||8|